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THEY say people give off signals that.

Byline: COLUMNIST CARRIE ARMSTRONG

THEY say people give off signals that denote they are not single. I find this hard to believe.

As will any of you who use public transport.

Sure. I used to look. I spent years living in London - people watching on trains and such was my top hobby.

And if the majority of these people happened to be menfolk? Well then, that's down to my eyeballs.

I couldn't very well help where they swivelled, now, could I? Which is why, if falling in love at first sight came as a surprise to me, then the instant, total disinterest in all other men that followed absolutely astonished me.

Because it really was, instant. Like someone had flipped a switch. I just lost all interest in anyone, except my one.

I was in my own little monogamous world from then. And because of this, I naively assumed I would no longer be of any interest in return.

Because people who are looking, give off signals, right? No. Not right. Very opposite of right, in fact. Especially on trains.

I must only assume menfolk on trains override these signals, or take a total lack of eye contact as playing hard to get.

It's not that. Trust me, I'm about as aloof and subtle as a 13-yearold girl at a One Direction gig.

If I'm not chatty in return, it's because I would rather we weren't talking, please.

But again, the motion of trains must play havoc with men's inner transmission, because even the most brief of disinterested verbal exchanges always, and I means always, moves on to the next level of communication.

The dance of the business card.

My body moves to an invisible beat trying to contort itself into an angle where it looks like I haven't seen the card.

His moves closer, just in case my eyesight really is that bad.

Until I give up and take it. He feels like I'm definitely into him now, because 1) I have his card 2) I haven't gotten up to leave. Here's the thing: I can't leave, because this scenario honest-to-God, only ever happens on trains. So, unless I'm going to throw myself out the window, there's nowhere to run and hide. Especially if they are the third bloke to pull the dance of the business card trick on this train.

Not that the business cards don't come in handy.

On the contrary, they make excellent bookmarks.

I do genuinely feel uncomfortable just flat-out ignoring the persistent, business card chucking male humans. It's rude. And my mother did not raise me that way.

Which means when they are rude, it's quite annoying.

"What's your problem? You aren't married. You haven't even got a ring on your finger", announced one perspicacious soul this week - a clear case of bingewatching episodes of Sherlock on Netflix if ever I saw one.

Fair point. I'm clearly not married. My fingers had been caught, naked and bereft of jewellery.

But there is an entire spectrum of commitment between sticking a rock on my finger and riding off, unfettered, into the sunset with this particular specimen of male I find in front of me.

A spectrum that surely doesn't need to be explained. Or inferred.

And, truth be told, the lexical semantics of this spectrum are a mystery to me.

Plus, I'd rather swallow my own face than continue talking to him.

But, needs must.

So what do I say? I'm "taken"? I don't like that. I'm in love with a man. This is not a hostage situation. He didn't take me anywhere.

I went willingly.

I'm "in a relationship"? No. I am a person. Not a Facebook status.

I "have a partner"? I do really like this as a concept. It feels the most accurate. There are only two types of people who spoil the term "partner" for the rest of us though: Cowboys in wild west films. People in senior positions at law firms. I like what Boris Johnson did. No, not getting stuck on a zipwire. Though I bet it is hard to throw business cards at unsuspecting women from that angle, so he may have been on to something.

Giving pregnant ladies badges, denoting their status so people on the tube would give up their seats.

Maybe David Cameron could see to getting lasses like myself "not so single" T-shirts to wear.

Or, maybe he could invest in free W-Fi on all trains. Then the menfolk could use commuting time to peruse online dating sites, and find lots of lovely girls only too happy to engage in conversation.

And then all instances of Strictly Come Business Card with me can come to an end.

I'd rather swallow my own face than continue talking to him
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 3, 2016
Words:794
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